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Inside Out

Watching animated movies with Ava has always been more of a duty than a joy.  But I love the movie “Inside Out” and I thought Ava was old enough to enjoy it so we watched it last weekend.  For people not familiar with the movie, it’s about an 11-year old girl who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco.  The movie is shown from the perspective of her emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust.  The moral of the movie is that we need to feel negative emotions and we can’t pretend that things aren’t difficult by only pretending to experience joy.

 

Ava was hooked as soon as she saw Anger blow fire out of his top.  She thought he was so funny.

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Jon bought a toy Anger and she was initially scared of him because she thought he was real.  After Ava and Jon talked about it, she started treating Anger like a baby and made a bed for him.  She also makes care packages for the other emotions.

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Jon also bought these wonderful books that each cover one of the emotions.  Each day Ava wants us to narrate for at least one of the emotions.  She’ll ask, “What’s Anger saying?”  The first day was Anger, the second day was Sadness, and the subsequent days have been mostly Fear, but with a little Joy and Disgust mixed in.

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It was so fun to watch the movie with Ava because she follows the plot line very well and asks a lot of questions.

Kittycat

Ava is such a charming little girl.  But don’t call her a girl.  She’s really a kitty and she gets mad if you call her anything but a kitty.  She can’t even handle this TV show Super Why where they refer to the audience as Super Readers.  She tells the television, “No, I’m a kitty.”  When people ask her name she says “Kittycat [Last name].”  Sometimes she says “Kittycat Ava Michelle [Last name].”  But never only Ava.

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Ava is obsessed with space.  She’s always asking what earth, moon, sun, and Venus are saying.  She also talks about Mars, Neptune, and Uranus.  She’s quickly learning the positions of all the planets relative to the sun.  She also loves the joke that moon eats cheese.  She always asks “What kind of cheese?”

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Ava does not want anything to change.  The other night she said right before she fell asleep, “I want to stay little.”  Ava can’t stand any story that involves a caterpillar changing into a butterfly.  She can’t even stand the ending to The Pout Pout Fish where the pout pout fish becomes a kiss kiss fish.

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Ava Happenings

Hello!  After Ava turned three and I stopped doing the monthly posts, it became a lot harder to come up with topics even though I have so many Ava stories!

 

Ava has been taking swimming lessons.  She loves the water and she often cries in the morning if it isn’t a swimming lesson day or she has to wait until after lunch to go swimming.  When she swims, the teachers’ biggest problem is that Ava tries to swim away from them and swim on her own.

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Next week Ava is starting ballet lessons.  Every time she sees ballet on television she starts doing the moves, so we thought she needed some ballet lessons.  We bought Ava the ballet shoes, put on The Nutcracker, and Ava danced around the room until bedtime.

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Here are some Ava quirks:

  • Ava has strong opinions about what clothing she wears.  She feels that all shirts should be long-sleeved shirts (“Does it goes all the way down?”).  When the temperature is above 95, though, she begrudgingly wears t-shirts.  She also prefers pullups to underwear even though she’s fully potty trained.
  • Ava has been having a lot of tantrums.  It used to be that she got upset because she couldn’t express herself.  Now, I think she does it to relieve strong emotions.  She’s much more likely to tantrum before bed.
  • Ava is really into baking.  Someone in the house has a birthday every day and she makes them a cake with flour, sugar, water, and spices.  She’ll taste the spices so it’s improving her palette.  Teddy Roosevelt usually has several birthdays a day.

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The Beatles

I’ve never known many nursery rhymes or good songs to sing to Ava at night.  I can sing the entire album “The Downward Spiral” by Nine Inch Nails, but you wouldn’t understand half the songs if you had to omit all the “fucks” from the lyrics.  So it’s very lucky that I also know a lot of Beatles Songs.  Even more lucky, Ava loves hearing Beatles songs.  The first song she ever memorized was “In My Life.”

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As Ava learns about language, she has started to ask about the song lyrics I sing during bedtime.  In the Beatles song “I’m So Tired,” John Lennon sings “I’d give you everything I’ve got for a little piece of mind.”  Ava wanted to know why the singer would give a “piece of mind.”  We had a long talk about what an expression is and how the song is about a man who needs comfort.

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We also talk about the meaning of songs.  Ava was really worried when I told her that “Yesterday” is about a women who doesn’t love a man anymore.  I explained that they were just dating and not family because she was worried that it could happen to her.  We spent a long time talking about how family never leaves.  In terms of meaning, Ava much prefers “In My Life” because I explained that it’s about how a mom realizes that all her relationships mean nothing once she has her daughter.

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I think I need to stop singing “Norwegian Wood” because there’s no delicate way to explain to a three-year old that the song is about how a man is scorned because a woman won’t sleep with her so he burns her house down.

 

Cape Cod

Ava has now visited both coasts!

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We spent 11 days in Cape Cod in a little house on a pond in Orleans, MA.  The pond was great because the temperature was wonderful, unlike the Atlantic ocean, which was way too cold.  Fortunately, Skaket Beach is perfect because the water is very shallow.  The shallowness means it’s safer for kids and the water is warmer.  Also, no one is at the beach when it’s a little cloudy out.

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Skaket Beach is on the side facing the mainland so it makes for gorgeous sunsets.

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The other beach in Orleans is Nauset Beach and it was way too fucking cold.  It had fun waves, but Ava got cold so quickly she insisted that I hold her while we were in the water so only her toes would get wet.  As a result, we went to Skaket Beach about 10 times as compared to a single visit to Nauset Beach.  It’s hard to beat these views.

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Although we spent most of the time in the water, Ava and I also visited a couple of museums.  She liked the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.  I found it a bit puzzling because the people who worked there don’t seem to understand that the people who designed the museum designed it for kids. The employees went around telling kids not to touch things.  I’m still confused about why they had these big bins with fish and plants and step stools for the kids and yet they got mad when the kids would stick their hands inside the bins.  But Ava didn’t mind and she had the best time.  Especially in the shark cage.

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And with the bird exhibit.

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Ava was less thrilled about our visit to the Cape Cod Museum of Art, but I think it was a valuable experience.  I would show her different artistic techniques and explain how she had used similar techniques.  Art is really important to Ava so I hope she’ll develop a love of art history.

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I already miss Cape Cod.  Although I’ve been living in the West for over a decade, it still doesn’t feel right because everything is so dry.  It felt right to be living in a lush environment.  Ava liked all the animals and insects.  She saw her first lightening bugs, caterpillars, and toads.  This little toad lived in a stump right outside the house.  We would check on him several times a day.

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In some ways I’ve felt like Ava has been three for months, but the night before her birthday I was incredibly sad to no longer have a two-year old.  I love how she’s growing up and our conversations, but I miss baby Ava.

 

Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava likes to copy our behaviors, so we’re trying to get her to be a helper.

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  • I don’t want to jinx it, but Ava is potty trained.  She’s been wearing underwear with very few accidents.  One day her nanny put her in underwear and Ava went with it!  I had been hesitating because I’m lazy and I didn’t want to deal with the pee, so I’m super grateful to Ava’s nanny.
  • Ava thankfully likes to wear a sunhat.  We went to a shaded area and she said she didn’t have to wear her sun hat because it’s a sun hat and not a shade hat.
  • Ava loves stories.  She especially loves stories that involve herself.  I used to tell her stories where she’s the main character and after I finished, she’d always say “Again!”  Now Ava has started interjecting details and telling her own stories.
  • At night I sing songs about an animal in the bed that rolls over and a mother animal looking for her babies. The type of animal changes every night or  there’s a new activity.  Tonight ducks were eating macaroni while they played.  There’s also often a new animal on the bus that I have to sing about.
  • Ava has been extra interested in our Worf cutout lately.  She likes to draw pictures for him and read to him with her nanny.

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Foods and Liquids

  • I think Ava’s favorite food right now is French fries.
  • Ava’s favorite drink is kombucha.  She calls is “bucha.”

Sleep

  • Sleep is pretty consistent.  Ava usually naps about once every 1-2 weeks.  I prefer for her to not nap unless her skipping naps starts to wear on her and she seems chronically grumpy.

Language Skills

  • Last month Ava was obsessed with the word “macaroni.” I can’t tell you how happy she was when one of her books had a part about Macaroni Penguins.  Ava already loves penguins so  Macaroni Penguins are the best!
  • Ava’s newest word is “muggle.”  She has no experience with Harry Potter so I think it’s just a word that she enjoys the sound of.  The other night she described a muggle as a grey thing with pink eyes and green hair that eats fish and drinks milk.  It moves using slime and at night they all sleep in the pockets of our clothing.  I drew one for her – what do you think?

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  • Ava didn’t think it was accurate.  I was rather disappointed.  I thought we had the makings of a fantastic children’s book.

 

 

 

 

Easter

Ava had a great Easter.  We gave Ava an Easter basket first thing in the morning.  We tried to make it healthy by adding egg-shaped fruit to the basket like a kiwi, a mango, and a papaya.  Ava was more excited about the chocolate, though.  And the plastic duck, especially the plastic duck.

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After breakfast we attended our street’s annual Easter egg hunt.  These events are the reason that we live on this street.  Everyone participating in the hunt dropped off 15 eggs on Saturday.  The hosts combined the eggs and planted them on the street.

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Last year Ava enjoyed picking up eggs.  This year Ava was more interested in the contents of the eggs.  So much so that she found four eggs and wanted to open them instead of continuing to hunt.  Then ten minutes later she realized there were more eggs to search for.  Fortunately, someone put a ton of eggs in a bush next to our house so we pilfered from there.  Last year there was no candy in the eggs, this year it was about 70% candy.  Ava approved.

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One person who filled Easter eggs does not understand child safety, though, because they filled some eggs with magic capsules.  These things look like pills, but when you put them in water the gel capsule dissolves and this foam inside expands to look like an animal.  That’s an incredibly dangerous thing to have around toddlers.  If a kid ate one, they’d end up needing surgery!  Fortunately, when we explained this to Ava she understood and didn’t try to eat them.  Instead, she focused on the Easter eggs that included balloons!

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We’re still using the Easter materials.  Ava enjoys mixed media and she’s been taping the plastic eggs and the grass that comes in Easter egg baskets to paper.  After Easter we went up and down the street trying to find more grass for her to use, which was delightful because we helped Ava with her art and cleaned up the neighborhood.

 

 

Ava is 35 Months Old

I’ve been telling people that Ava is three for months because it seems ridiculous to say that she’s still two.  She’s too tall and she talks too much to be called a two-year old.  I feel like no change could be greater than the transition from two to three when a child goes from knowing a few distinct words to having nonstop conversations.

Independence/Motor Skills

  • Ava is starting to enjoy dressing up.  I’m happy because we have so many things for her to dress up in that were going unused.  Plus, it’s so much fun.  Unlike two Halloweens ago when Ava was hysterical about having to wear her Yoda costume, now she’s thrilled.

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  • Stonewall was sick last weekend and Ava was so brave about it.  I discovered that Stonewall was having seizures on Saturday morning so I took him to the vet.  I was gone for two hours so things were very different for Ava.  She understood what was happening and asked a lot of questions about it.  Stonewall is better now, but Ava is still working through it.  She pretends one of her bird toys is sick and has to go to the vet.

Foods and Liquids

  • Ava is a champion eater of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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Sleep

  • Ava needs about 11 hours of sleep a night, which is right in the middle for a three-year old.  I’m very grateful that her sleep schedule is pretty reasonable right now.  She’s asleep between 8-10 every night and up at 7-8:30.

Language Skills

  • One book that Ava loves is called “Dragons Love Tacos.”  The story is that you’re not supposed to give dragons tacos with spicy salsa because it makes them breathe fire.  This guy throws a party and accidentally gives them salsa with jalapeños and, as a result, the dragons burn the guy’s house down.  When we tell Ava that some of our food is too spicy she says: “Don’t eat it, you’ll burn the house down.”
  • I read a book to Ava the other night that is really beautiful.  It’s about a child that doesn’t want to go to bed so her parents tell her about how all the other animals go to bed, including the bat, which folds its wings and falls asleep.  I never know how much attention Ava pays to a book.  But it was clear this time when we finished the book and Ava said “I will fold my arms like a bat.”

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  • One of Ava’s favorite songs is “I Don’t Recall” by Lavender Diamond.  Every time Ava hears it, when the song is about to end she says: “One more time.”
  • When Ava likes a song but she doesn’t know the words, she just says “meow, meow, meow” along with the melody.
  • Ava’s favorite word is macaroni.  I think she just likes how it sounds.  She’s been calling me “mommy mac,” which is short for “mommy macaroni.”
  • Ava’s been telling this joke that she finds hilarious.  She asks what something is saying, be it a bird flying overhead or a house.  She’ll ask what the thing is saying, and then she speaks for it – “I want milk!”

San Diego

We recently took a trip to San Diego.  Ava was so amazing during the travel.  We didn’t even tell her about the airplane until we were an hour from leaving for the airport because otherwise Ava would have asked about the airplane every five minutes until we left.  And if it gets too difficult, we can play Fruit Ninja on my phone.  Ava is pretty good at it; she gets really excited when a bomb appears in the game.

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We stayed at this great apartment with views of the Coronado bridge.  The area was a bit unsafe for walking because it was a block away from a huge homeless shelter.  But a great thing about a busy city like San Diego is that you can get food delivered from anywhere.  We had two kinds of poke and lobster!

 

The apartment was part of a huge complex.  Our unit was on floor 32 and there were plenty of floors above us.  Ava kept her cat identity in San Diego and she decided she should tell people in the complex about her cat qualities.  She’d say: “I’m a kitty!  I have sharp claws and soft fur peeking out of my shirt.  Will you pet my belly?”  She did this to a guy in the elevator and he became incredibly uncomfortable until Jon made a joke about how Ava just made everything weird.  When she did this to the women, they loved it.

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On our first full day we went to the New Children’s Museum.  If you have kids and you do anything in San Diego, it should be to visit the New Children’s Museum.  Not only did they have a ton of different areas with fun things, but they had an area for kids that are four and under.  The museum is also perfectly designed for kids because it had a quiet area in the basement where kids could read books or relax.  Ava didn’t nap the whole trip, but she still needed her typical napping hour for quiet time.  She sat and drank a bottle and then was able to go back to being wild and crazy.  They also had a taco truck with the best fish tacos I’ve ever eaten.

The first exhibit at the museum was a room filled with white sand and gold glitter.  The exhibit had filters and sieves and when you filter out the sand, the gold glitter is left so it’s like mining for gold!  Ava would have happily spent the entire time in that room, but when she started trying to sleep in the sand, we took her out.

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Jon enjoyed the museum too.

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The next day, we went to the San Diego Zoo.  The zoo is in Balboa Park, which is huge.  It’s amazing to think that a major city could have such a huge amount of green space.  We visited a petting zoo section and took a bus ride of the park, but then Ava was done.  I was really proud of her because she told us that she wanted to go home.  It’s so great to have a toddler with enough language skills to tell you what she’s feeling.

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On the last day, Ava and I hung out with our wonderful friend Tiffany!  We can’t wait to go back.

 

 

 

Ava Is 34 Months Old

Independence/Motor Skills

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  • Ava is still deeply committed to being a kitty.  The other night she insisted that she didn’t need to wear pajamas to bed because her fur would keep her warm enough.
  • Ava is back to fighting potty training.  I don’t understand why she keeps going back and forth but it’s not the sort of thing I want to push because it would make the process worse.  She’s dry throughout the night and sometimes she doesn’t pee in her diaper for an hour after she wakes up.
  • Ava is getting better at identifying her emotions.  When she gets upset she’ll say “Kitty is sad!  Kitty is not happy!”  After she has a meltdown, she’ll say “I was sad and I cried!”

Foods and Liquids

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  • Food is still a bit random.  Ava doesn’t like skins on things like apples and potatoes.  But she likes the apples and potatoes without the skin.
  • She loves fish.  The other day I made some delicious salmon and it was the only thing she was willing to eat for dinner.  But she doesn’t like lobster meat, go figure.

Sleep

  • Sleep is the same.  Ava has been more into naps lately, I think because she has a lingering sickness.

Language Skills

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  • No longer is Ava merely repeating words she’s heard before.  Now she’s assembling concepts together, sometimes with hilarious results.  I don’t ever want to forget these anecdotes.
  • Like most toddlers, Ava has a habit of putting gross things in her mouth.  She’ll suck on the metal sides of a grocery cart, she’ll put pennies in her mouth, etc.  We’ll tell her not to do that and she’s started justifying her actions.  At first it was in a very smart lawyerly way that recognizes distinctions between concepts.  If you said, “Don’t put that penny in your mouth,” She’d respond: “I’m just licking it.”  But now she’s taken it a step further.  The other day Ava was painting and for some reason she loves painting her lips with watercolor paint.  When her nanny told her to stop, she said: “I’m just thinking about owls.”  Like she was contemplating owls while her paintbrush merely rested on her lips.  Brilliant!
  • The other day Ava and I were laying in bed and I said “Ava, I love you.”  Ava responded, “I need a hug and a kiss!”
  • Some of the excuses are a little sneaky, though.  Sometimes Ava will be up to no good and when you tell her not to do something like hit you, she says “I’m just trying to make you laugh.”
  • Ava doesn’t like it when her nanny leaves at the end of the work day.  She will often tell her nanny “I want to come too.”  The other day when I came out of my office, she pointed at me and said: “No.  I don’t want you.  I don’t love you.”  I have to admit, it hurt.

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